Gamma-ray Spectroscopy- Definition, Principle, Parts, Uses


Gamma-ray (γ-ray) spectroscopy is a quick and nondestructive analytical technique that can be used to identify various radioactive isotopes in a sample. A gamma-ray spectrometer (GRS) is an instrument for measuring the distribution of the intensity of gamma radiation versus the energy of each photon.

Gamma rays are the highest-energy form of electromagnetic radiation, being physically the same as all other forms (e.g., X-rays, visible light, infrared, radio) but having (in general) higher photon energy due to their shorter wavelength. Because of this, the energy of gamma-ray photons can be resolved individually, and a gamma-ray spectrometer can measure and display the energies of the gamma-ray photons detected.

Most radioactive sources produce gamma rays, which are of various energies and intensities. When these emissions are detected and analyzed with a spectroscopy system, a gamma-ray energy spectrum can be produced. A detailed analysis of this spectrum is typically used to determine the identity and quantity of gamma emitters present in a gamma source and is a vital tool in the radiometric assay. The gamma spectrum is characteristic of the gamma-emitting nuclides contained in the source, just like in an optical spectrometer, the optical spectrum is characteristic of the material contained in a sample.

Gamma-ray spectroscopy has many applications in various fields, such as nuclear physics, astrophysics, geochemistry, environmental science, medicine, and security. In this article, we will discuss the principle, instrumentation, and uses of gamma-ray spectroscopy in detail.